San Francisco Giants Need to Consider Platoon at Shortstop for the Stretch Run
At one point in time this season, Brandon Crawford was a potential All-Star candidate, but has regressed to the point of possibly losing his starting gig at shortstop. The San Francisco Giants need to consider adopting a platoon at Crawford’s inherent position with rookie Matt Duffy.
Crawford has been flat out terrible for the orange and black, frequently spitting on no-respect fastballs in two-strike counts without showing any desire to swing the bat. After posting an 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in the Giants’ recent 10-3 win against the surging Washington Nationals, it’s now very apparent that Crawford has absolutely zero confidence. The fourth-year shortstop also recorded his 18th error of the season to tie a career-high on Friday night.
Crawford has just 10 hits in the month of August. To put that into perspective, rookie second baseman Joe Panik has nine hits during the Giants’ current road trip (four games to date). If Crawford is going to remain viable in the Giants’ lineup, he needs to at least consistently contribute by moving runners over and occasionally getting on base, while also playing sound defense. Right now, he’s doing none of that.
Crawford’s average dipped to .226 after a rough night during one of the Giants’ biggest wins of the season. His current batting average is the lowest figure he’s posted on the season since earning a golden sombrero in a similar 0-for-4 “effort” on Apr. 6 in a 6-2 road loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers (.211).
Much like the dire situation the Giants faced at second base until Panik’s explosive emergence, they don’t possess a clear-cut alternative at shortstop. San Francisco’s current middle-of-the-lineup production is likely enough to mitigate Crawford’s ongoing struggles, but a platoon with right-handed hitter Matt Duffy seems like a logical solution—if it qualifies as that.
Duffy isn’t a world-beater. In fact, he’s a blatantly less effective hitter than Crawford at the big league level. Duffy has recorded just five base hits (all singles) in 26 official at-bats this season. The Giants would undeniably like a younger player like Duffy to get regular at-bats, whether it be at Double-A Richmond, where he spent a majority of the 2014 season, or at the big league level.
The biggest problem preventing Duffy from gaining regular playing time in a platoon situation with Crawford is that both infielders hit well against left-handed pitchers. Neither performs well against right-handers.
Crawford’s splits are strange. He owns a .295 average in 122 at-bats against left-handers, but has posted an inefficient .198 average against right-handed hurlers. Crawford, a left-handed hitter, should post numbers that are essentially opposite to his current figures. To compare, Duffy, a right-handed hitter, has recorded just one knock against right-handed pitchers in a small sample size of 15 at-bats (.067 AVG.) while going four-for-10 against left-handers.
Something has to change.
Crawford should be the guy to take ABs against right-handed hitters for the meantime whereas Duffy ought to earn the plate appearances against lefties. The Giants can’t merely sit back and hope that Crawford rekindles early season success. It’s just not going to happen. A lefty-righty platoon between the Giants’ current starting shortstop and the rookie from Double-A is the most logical solution, numbers aside.
After all, it’s not as if San Francisco is getting a ton—or any—production from the shortstop position right now.